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Traffic choke points around Mohali: Growing commuting chaos

The solution: Zirakpur needs a ring road to ensure that the traffic from Delhi and Ambala to Himachal doesn’t touch the city. Without this, there can’t be any end to the daily traffic trouble.

punjab Updated: May 30, 2018 14:23 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Traffic choke points,commuting chaos,ring road
JAMPACKED: Long lines of vehicles are a daily affair at the Patiala Chowk under the flyover at Zirakpur. (Sushil Prajapati/HT )

The gateway to Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh, Zirakpur enjoys a unique place in the region’s grid plan. It is sandwiched between Delhi-Ambala-Shimla National Highway-22 on the one side and Zirakpur-Bathinda National Highway-64 on the other. This is translating into daily chaos, which is making daily commute a nightmare not only for the locals but also for outsiders.

No one can deny that the commuters coming to or passing through the tricity for going to Shimla or other industrial towns of Himachal like Baddi or Nalagarh can’t avoid traveling via Zirakpur.

It is this highway link that local realty developers had used to woo customers for their high-rise apartments. But its very strength has turned into a curse not only for the locals, but also for travellers.

Incomplete ring road project

The traffic between Delhi and Shimla often gets choked at Zirakpur. Things would have been different had the city’s planners and political leadership not scuttled the ring road project that would have extended the 200-foot airport road (PR-7) to Panchkula’s Sector 20 and 21 from the rear of Zirakpur.

Colonel KJS Sandhu, in charge of the Zirakpur-Parwaoo Himalayan Expressway, told HT that more than 40,000 Himachal-bound vehicles travel via Zirakpur, and the number is increasing by 15% to 20% every year. This traffic often gets stuck at Zirakpur, especially when coming from Delhi or Ambala. All efforts to broaden the existing roads have failed to make any impact.

“There is a dire need for an alternate route or flyover to bypass Zirakpur before the problem becomes chronic,” warned Sandhu. On the face of it, the idea behind this 6-km ring road is simple and logical.

It will serve to bypass Zirakpur. And the traffic bound for Shimla and Baddi on NH-22 will no longer touch the Zirakpur town.

The road will originate from the corner of the sports outlet, Decathlon along the NH-22’s Ambala-Zirakpur highway stretch, before linking to the highway from Panchkula side in Sector 20 and 21 via Nagla, Sanauli and Peer Mushalla villages of Zirakpur.

A SOLUTION STALLED: The Panchkula bypass near Decathlon in Zirakpur remains incomplete. ( Sushil Prajapati/HT )

Not GMADA’s priority

However, delay in land acquisition and slow pace of construction has scuttled the project, which is being supervised by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA).

Work was started in 2013 with a road in front of Decathlon, but it lies abandoned. First, GMADA did not complete the construction of the bridge over the Ghaggar flowing in the Nagla village. Then the process of acquiring land in Sanauli village is incomplete, and without this the bypass can’t be extended till its final destination.

GMADA chief engineer Sunil Kansal says the project is not on their priority list as other ongoing works need to be completed first.

“Everything is done with money. When you have limited funds, you tend to fix your priorities,” said Kansal, when questioned about the traffic chaos in Zirakpur. NHAI officials believe that once constructed, this bypass will also serve the wider tricity ring route, which is still being planned.

The project needs a push from the Haryana government too as the end point of the ring road on the Panchkula side needs infrastructure development.

Panchkula MLA Gian Chand Gupta from the BJP says the Haryana govenrment is inclined to complete their part as the issue was discussed in the recent coordination committee meeting between Punjab, Haryana and UT

The ring road, if laid on time, will also open an alternative route from Panchkula to the new international airport terminal in Mohali, and will be beneficial for diverting Zirakpur’s local traffic too.

Kulwinder Singh Sohi, president of the Zirakpur municipal council, said the state government should speed up the construction of the ring road from the airport road to Panchkula as it is vital to decongesting traffic in Zirakpur.

If that happens, the Himachal-bound traffic will get an alternate route, and the traffic coming from Chandigarh to Punjab’s Bathinda region via Patiala will also be able to cross Zirakpur easily.

He said till the time it is not completed, there should be heavy deployment of traffic police to regulate traffic and parking in these areas.

Ground situation worrisome

In the absence of poor planning, the ground situation is disturbing. All the three streams of traffic --local, inter-tricity and inter-state--converge on three major intersections, namely, the Patiala chowk, T-point turning towards Panchkula-Kalka-Shimla and the Baltana-Dhakoli intersection. The situation at the Patiala Chowk and the T-point is the worst as these two serve as the junction of both NH-22 and NH-64.

Worse, there is Chandigarh-Zirakpur flyover on these two intersections, leaving a narrow stretch for the commuters.

Adarsh Gupta, a daily commuter, says the situation in Zirakpur is a reflection of the urban chaos our cities are suffering. “There are days when it takes 20-25 minute to cross a stretch of half kilometre. It is not acceptable,” he fumed.

A traffic police constable deployed at the Patiala Chowk said it is extremely difficult to handle the chaos between 9 am and 12 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm.

“The roads get filled with cars, buses, and trucks. It is dangerous for us to remain exposed to such intense pollution. The authorities must do something,” he said.

The market along these chowks, the crush of autos, the encroachments, all compound the traffic madness.

Navjit Miglani, a local, rued that the delay in this project showed that the authorities were not serious about making any improvements. “All the expansion in the tricity is happening on the periphery, which is suffering from poor urban planning. We need a solution. Fast.”

First Published: May 30, 2018 14:23 IST